Gun control is a perennial issue in the U.S., that comes to light just about every time there is a high profile case of gun violence. More often than not, these cases involve individuals using illegal weapons, or illegally using weapons that do not belong to them. However, that doesn’t stop gun control advocates from screaming that we need more gun control.
That was the case with former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords earlier this month, when she clarified her stand on gun rights. While stating that she is for the right to bear arms, she pointed out that we as a nation need more background checks for people seeking to buy a weapon. That message probably wasn’t received well by at least one veteran, who after 22 years of service in the Army, was denied a license to purchase a handgun. Ron Kelley had served a year of probation in 1971 for a misdemeanor charge over pot possession. The authorities that originally charged him have disposed of the case files in the intervening years. While the FBI assures Kelley that he should be able to straighten out this issue, he is concerned that similar situations are happening to others elsewhere – rightly so.
Giffords talked about the concept of responsibility in her column, and Kurt Schlichter at Town Hall dissected her argument. However, even he avoided a topic that constantly get lost in this debate. Common sense has told us all along that gun control does nothing to stop criminals, because their lawless behavior in other respects should indicate that they are not going to be concerned about breaking additional laws to arm themselves. Gun control laws and background checks are not about preventing crime – they are about controlling the masses.
One tragedy that people are not likely to see the gun control crowd latch onto is the death of 11-year-old Leonard Smith, Jr.. The reason why he won’t be mentioned is that this child was killed by a 6-year-old child, probably with an illegal weapon. Children playing in a house found the weapon, and the end result was Smith suffering a fatal head wound. Gun control advocates are undoubtedly squeamish about the possibility of pressing charges against such a young child.
But that isn’t the only option. As a society, we have enacted laws that levy mandatory penalties for certain crimes, typically because of the heinous nature of them. If the problem is gun crimes, the conversation shouldn’t be about disarming law-abiding citizens. We should be talking about sentencing rules for gun crimes. Giffords made lofty comments about responsibility, and Schlichter pointed out how disingenuous that was, and he was right. However, he didn’t take the next logical step, and suggest that the solution to the problem is to enact stiff penalties for gun crimes. The tragic case of Smith being killed by another child should involve charges against the adults in that home, for leaving a weapon where the children could find it. There should be a murder charge, not against a child, but against the adult responsible for that weapon being there in the first place. There should be mandatory sentences for individuals found guilty of killing or injuring others with illegal, or illegally acquired weapons.
Of course there would be resistance to that, due to prison crowding. But, if we were honest with ourselves, maybe being sensible about dealing with gun crime would lead to being sensible about jail terms for other crimes. It might lead to a discussion about which kinds of criminals we really do need to have off the streets for many years, or life. One can hope someone will start that conversation, but it’s not likely.